Over the last few years of fast-paced change, many publishers have worried about their revenues and future profitability. But there’s a lot to be learned by spying on the competition when trying to predict the future of the industry.

Looking at how the bravest of your industry peers (or competitors) are reacting to challenges is key to predicting trends. Traditional publishers who have adapted will continue to survive and thrive by innovating their products, capitalising on their brand, or reimagining their business model.

“In the near future, every organisation will need to be a digital organisation, but our research indicates that the majority still have a long way to go,” said Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies.


Technological innovation is something that the publishing industry claims to aspire to and want, but not many appear to be advancing this in practice. In terms of anticipating the next paradigm shift, publishers are in danger of being left on the backfoot.

While still rated as purveyors and producers of content, publishers depend heavily on technology services, such as title management software, to organise and run their businesses. But they also need to consider bigger investments in technology that could be truly transformational to their business and integral to their growing in niche markets.

So where does that place publishing? Here are our predictions for where the industry will move to stay relevant.

More specialised publishing in niche categories

Increased specialisation in the publishing industry seems inevitable. This will be achieved by working with partners who understand specific markets and concerns. It will also lend itself to fostering the talent of authors who have currency in areas that publishers wish to specialise in, creating an environment conducive to this focused concentration.

Learning from the successes of self-publishing

Traditional publishers will be forced to take notes from the self-publishing industry. Self-publishing companies (e.g. Print on Demand [POD] companies) have visions of greater revenues. In the latest self-publishing development, Barnes & Noble has now launched their own digital self-publishing platform called PubIt to compete with Amazon’s Create Space.

Greater autonomy of publishing chain units

Among the big publishing houses, there will be a devolution from complex, centralised management to semi-autonomous editorial units. Simon & Schuster have been trialing this since 2011, with small teams of editors, publicists, and marketing specialists devoted to specific genres and titles. These teams propose, develop, and execute their own publicity and marketing plans, from the moment of acquisition through paperback publication and eBook. Those who are present at the creation bring a greater depth of understanding and experience to the publication of these books.

Quality control will gain prominence over cost considerations

Greater emphasis on rigorous editorial processes and quality content will be more important than ever as publishing seeks to combat fake news in the age of disinformation.

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  • Global Culture – The Culture of Copy Editing
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  • Will AI ever author?
  • Is metadata missing from your publishing business sales strategy?

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